• by William Dalrymple, Anita Anand
  • Narrated by Leighton Pugh
  • 6 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The first comprehensive and authoritative history of the Koh-i Noor, arguably the most celebrated and mythologised jewel in the world, from the internationally acclaimed and best-selling historians William Dalrymple and Anita Anand.
On 29 March 1849, the 10-year-old Maharajah of the Punjab was ushered into the magnificent Mirrored Hall at the centre of the great Fort in Lahore. There, in a public ceremony, the frightened but dignified child handed over to the British East India Company in a formal act of submission not only swathes of the richest land in India but also arguably the single most valuable object in the subcontinent: the celebrated Koh-i-Noor diamond. The Mountain of Light.
Under commission from the British East India Company, gossip from Delhi bazaars was woven into what would become the accepted history of the Koh-i-Noor. Now, for the first time, 150 years after it was written, this version is finally challenged, freeing the diamond from the fog of mythology which has clung to it for so long. The resulting history is one of greed, conquest, murder, torture, colonialism and appropriation through an impressive slice of South and Central Asian history. Masterly, powerful and erudite, this is history at its most compelling and invigorating.


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This book is divided into two parts. The first part is written by William Dalrymple, who is an authority on 18th and 19th century India. He tells the story of the Koh-I-Noor diamond from the time Persian Nadu Shah humiliated the Mughal Emperor, sacked Delhi and sized the diamond, the Peacock throne and other jewels. The Mughal Dynasty was of Turkic-Mongol origin and ruled most of Northern India from 16th to mid-18th century. The Shah was murdered and the Afghan King took the diamond. It was then taken by the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh. When the British conquered the Punjab in 1846, the ten-year-old King Duleep Singh gave it to Queen Victoria. It is now in the Tower of London.

Dalrymple makes it clear that the history of the diamond prior to being captured by the Persian Nadu Shah is only based on guess work and fables. The author goes into the relationship the Indians have with gems including culture and religion. Dalrymple states that in ancient times the Indians sifted the diamonds from the sands of stream beds. All diamonds came from India until the 18th century when diamonds were discovered in Brazil.

The author states there were three great diamonds taken from the Mughal Emperor by the Persian Nadu Shah: the Koh-I-Noor is in England, the Darya-I-Noor is in Iran and the Orlov is in the center of the Imperial Scepter of Catherine the Great in Russia.

The second part of the book is written by journalist Anita Anand. She tells the story of King Duleep Singh. Anand sites the history of the diamond in the hands of the British. The author also discusses the characteristics of the diamond. It is thought the diamond came from the Kollur mine in Andhra Pradesh India in the 13th century. It was claimed to be 793 carets and 158.6g uncut and a clear color.

The book is well written and meticulously researched. The authors tell the complicated story drawing on a wide range of literature and memoirs. Koh-I-Noor in Persian means Mountain of Light.

I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. Leighton Pugh does a good job narrating the book. Pugh is an actor, voice over artist and audiobook narrator.
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- Jean

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-15-2017
  • Publisher: Audible Studios